Things About Getting Caught

I caught a cold. Well technically, it caught me, even though I was fleeing it aggressively in the form of hand washing and germ avoidance. In technical fire terms, we call this “camp crud” because everybody in camp has it, and every surface in camp is covered with it. I will take what's going around in lieu of the the gastrointestinal version of camp crud, though (give me a sinus headache over violent diarrhea any day). No yurt latch, outhouse door, or pair of tongs in the salad bar is safe. There isn't enough hand sanitizer in the world. The pervasive germ probably starts at someone’s house when a preschooler wipes snot-covered fingers across their soon-to-be-dispatched daddy’s face and the benevolent firefighter shares his family germs with the rest of his 20 man crew, who spread, from camp to camp, the viral love. It’s definitely epidemic, but luckily, nobody dies.

enter at your own risk... no, seriously. (PS, not on this fire)

Or maybe not so lucky since I woke up this morning wishing I was dead. My head felt like it had railroad spikes driven into both temples and that little spot right between my lungs and throat was on fire. And it hurt to move. I started out slowly, trying to determine if I felt like I needed to Lie Perfectly Still Forever because the NyQuil I took hadn’t worn off by 05:28 AM or if I really was That Sick. Turns out I was. I knew when I handed Nyquil to a fever-stricken girl from the kitchen crew that I was doomed. Watching all of those grubby hands root through a box of cough drops on the table in the med unit gave me full body shudders before I was even running a temp.

The beauty of getting a virus like this is that it seems like the rest of my body calls a truce from the inflammatory onslaught that is a daily occurrence. It’s as if the torn labrums in all four quadrants are like “all hail the coronavirus!” and bow down in deference to full-body aches. The bug has removed all guilt I usually feel for not getting out of my truck to do daily exercises, as any movement right now makes the whole world spin viciously like I am at a rave and on way too many hallucinogens.

I would like to offer my sincere appreciation at this time for whomever it is that developed guaifenesin as a cold remedy. I am seriously in love with Mucinex and today, specifically, the kind with dextromethorphan built it. Also a quick shout out to REAL Sudafed. I’d be lost without you, baby. All that phenylephrine crap can get lost.

One of my favorite parts about working in the medical tent at fire camp is coming up with the most effective cold remedy “cocktails” for other firefighters, and traditionally once a year, myself as well. In Oregon, you can’t get real pseudoephedrine without a prescription which is cruel and unusual punishment for all head cold sufferers and one more reason to hate the whole meth culture. The best daytime cold cocktail is real Sudafed, Tylenol or ibuprofen (depending on your preference) and Mucinex. At night, I am all about the NyQuil and Mucinex - and if I am REALLY bad, I will add more Sudafed too, unless I am in Oregon and am forced to suffer without. We usually are able to get the generic versions of all of this stuff in fire camp and have a steady supply, which is awesome. If you have to suffer, you might as well do it well armed.

Anyway, if you have any questions about how to get sick in fire camp and/or what to do for it, I’m your girl. In the meantime, I will be here in Division Zulu hacking out the inner lining of my lungs and trying not to infect the three people in camp who have thus far miraculously escaped exposure. It’s only a matter of time though…

500 man medical kit. Drugs-r-us. (PS2, also not on this fire)
PS, Speaking of getting caught, I wonder if I will get in trouble for writing about this fire, even though I didn't name names or use current pictures? Oh well. Getting caught for blogging can't be any worse than getting caught by a cold, right?

Things About (not) Drinking

I decided to give up drinking (alcohol) for three months, just to see what life was like without it. I learned a lot in those three months. All 42 days of it.

OK, so I didn’t make it three months (does this indicate a problem?). But 42 days has to earn me some street cred with the teetotalers out there, right? In case you’re curious to know the Deep and Meaningful things that I learned while I was beerless, wineless whiskyless and ginless for a few weeks, well, I will tell you, but first let me tell you WHY.

I didn’t really learn about drinking until I was in my mid-to-late twenties and dealing with something of a crisis of the soul and pocketbook and home and life in general. Drinking was one of the only things, for a few years, that provided snapshots of “happiness” in an otherwise pretty upsetting world. Without going into sordid details, the other things that made me happy were my kids being silly, trips to the zoo, the advent of text messaging and the original iPhone.

It took me several years, as it does most people when learning to drink, to figure out my limits and at which point alcohol took over all of the decision making capacities in my life. Of course at the time, if alcohol wasn’t deciding then it was usually some cruel version of fate calling the shots, so in many cases I was happy to let booze take over. As I learned to bridle my drink, I also learned to manipulate the cruel hand of fate and start calling the shots for myself, and quit being a sorry excuse for a pile of victimized mush.

Since then, I have learned to enjoy wine on most nights, beer on some, whisky and gin on the certain days that just call for whiskey and gin. For the most part, drinking and decision making have long since parted ways, except for the occasional karaoke song choice or making new best friends at the bar whose names I can’t remember the next day.

I am not against drinking and I appreciate that it takes the suck out of life sometimes, just by sanding off the pointy edges of days and people and things. But I decided to take a break for a few reasons, including a body that keeps getting older and breaking without my permission, a lot of Big Things happening in my life and Decisions To Be Made and Plans To Be Developed, and also I was curious to know how much life sucked without a drink here and there.

Here’s what I learned: it sucks a lot.

But it’s also beautiful. All those sharp edges that get sanded off can be good every once in awhile for pointing out little things that need to be fixed.

I was also curious if I would make No Bad Choices while I wasn’t drinking, but lying in the hot sun for 5 hours one day with no sunblock, wearing an ill-advised bikini, proved that bad choices can be made even without the help of a drink. Sometimes people (i.e. me) are still dumb, and in this case, still peeling. I also found myself reciting Uncle Remus stories, sans alchohol, so there’s really no excuse for my behavior.

What I missed the most in 42 days was a glass of wine at the end of the day in sweatpants on the couch, shower beers and that lazy, happy smile about life after a couple of drinks. What I didn’t miss the most in 42 days was the draggy fuzz of mornings after I didn’t stop at one glass, or two glasses but felt compelled to finish the whole bottle so as not to let it go bad.

Ultimately, I learned that I don’t need to drink (alcohol) to get through, or even enjoy life. But even Jesus knew what a drag a party is without a little something in your glass (water-into-wine, y'all?), and I am grateful for the privilege of being able to enjoy the miracle of science that is fermentation, in all it’s variety.

purpose is everything. 

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